On Armistice Day a year ago, Clive fell on his knees in a hotel just outside Rheims in the North of France. He couldn’t get up by himself nor could our friends get him up. He slipped into a coma. It was the fire brigade which finally laid him on a stretcher and transported him to the local hospital where he was put in Intensive Care.
He was on a ventilator for a month. After a further month we heard that the hospital in Britain wouldn’t receive him even if he recovered. I’d been forced to return to Italy and he was effectively in solitary confinement.
Another month elapsed and a colonoscopy was arranged, but cancelled and forgotten. It was finally performed a month later and revealed a large malignant tumour in Clive’s lower intestine.
Nearly 5 months after his initial collapse, at the beginning of April, Clive was transferred to a hospital in Paris. At the end of 3 months of chemotherapy, he underwent an 8-hour operation to remove the 4-pound tumour. It left him with a colostomy.
In mid-August the Paris hospital arranged for his transfer back to Italy where, naturally, he had to be confined to a sofa after spending more than 9 months on his back and receiving absolutely minimal physiotherapy.
We had a visitation today from 2 doctors and a nurse. My understanding had been that they would look at possibilities of rehabilitation. Nothing doing. The hoist and wheelchair that had been mooted seem to have gone backwards; their specification will be changed; you have to understand these things take time … I couldn’t raise a single shocked eyebrow regarding the 3 months we’ve now spent in Italy without seeing any progress whatsoever.
This has been our own ‘annus horribilis’ but unfortunately it’s still continuing.
Today was what you might call ‘horribilis’.
This morning, Clive turned on his laptop in the normal way, having turned it off and disconnected it in the normal way last night, and it just wouldn’t start up.
After struggling with it till there was really nothing else to try, he phoned Hewlet Packard, the manufacturers. He was on the phone with them for an hour, trying this and that, fiddling around with tiny little screws detaching things, and finally they said he needed a Windows start-up disk and diagnosed an intermittent fault on the hard drive.
We phoned up our local computer shop and went there in the afternoon. Our usual guy was on holiday, but his stand-in, a very pleasant young man called Simone, concluded that the hard drive was completely inaccessible.
This is a big problem because, although Clive backs things up, he doesn’t do so every day and he has lost some important emails, his very useful list of favourites on Internet Explorer, and some raw data for our publishing business. All either very time-consuming or impossible to recreate.
Then Clive felt a new lump on Joules’ chest.
We took him to our normal vet who felt him and thought it could indeed be a new tumour.
We were several hours hanging around the computer shop, and when they kicked us out at 8.00 pm, our car wouldn’t start because it had a flat battery. (Why???? We had no lights on or anything and it’s a new battery!!!!)
The one great saving grace was that Simone offered to come home with us and continue working on the computer (installing drivers).
He was deliciously appreciative of Clive’s cooking when we gave him supper, made friends with the dogs, cheered Clive up as much as any human being could have, and SPOKE ENGLISH.
The photograph is of Clive’s laptop ploughing through an interminably slow installation. The clock behind is showing British time. In reality, here in Italy, it was an hour later and Simone was still going strong; that’s his coffee mug. He was here in the house till gone midnight.
Some time after this, the laptop refused to recognise the password, and so will have to go in to the computer shop first thing in the morning anyway. Aaaaargh!
Italy has been our home for more than 12 years now, and the house in the photo for most of that time. This blog documents the joys and problems of our existence day by day.
We have our difficulties. My husband, Clive, is permanently disabled. In addition, he recently spent 9 months in French hospitals recovering first from a coma and then from an operation to remove a massive bowel tumour. He’s just finished a course of chemotherapy at home, and is learning to walk again.
Some of our difficulties derive from where we live, but I still love living here. Clive is more circumspect. By reading about our daily life, perhaps you will be able to tell whose view is the more accurate. Does the pleasure outweigh the pain? Or will my writing betray a less rose-tinted reality?
You can also see the books we’ve written and published by clicking on the image below: